When Marc Brown was previously on Brusly’s coaching staff as the offensive coordinator, he recalled a fall scrimmage that the Panthers traveled to face St. Thomas Aquinas and its rising star — defensive tackle Edward Alexander.
Three years later Brown’s in his first season as Brusly’s head coach and with his Panthers (2-0) scheduled to host Class 2A’s No. 8 St. Thomas Aquinas (2-0) at 7 p.m. Friday, he sees a familiar presence on the Falcons defense.
“Ed was a man going into his sophomore year,” Brown said of Alexander, a 300-pound LSU commitment. “Guess what, he’s much more of a man now.”
The STA-Brusly nondistrict matchup of unbeaten teams is the marquee game among lower classification games, a group that also includes The Dunham School (2-0) visiting Westminster Christian (2-0), Episcopal (2-0) at Country Day (2-0) and Southern Lab (1-1) at West St. John (2-0).
“I’m excited about where this team’s right now,” STA coach John White said. “We have a big challenge against Brusly. They do a good job, they’re at home and have some playmakers we have to worry about defensively. It’s a challenge, and we’re up for it.”
STA’s played Class 4A Chalmette (40-27 win) and at Class 2A Mangham (36-18 win) before facing Class 3A Brusly to prepare for the start of District 9-2A play next week.
The Falcons, a Division III quarterfinalist last season, also feature another college-bound player in 6-foot-4, 190-pound quarterback Cameron Dantzler, who has committed to Mississippi State where he projects to play defensive back.
Dantzler triggers a balanced rushing attack with 26 carries for 282 yards and six TDs followed by running backs Brad Lewis (25-245, one TD) and Ralph Haynes (24-157, one TD).
Brusly has adjusted to Brown, who took over for Erik Willis several months ago, and his new-look spread offense, recording wins over White Castle (40-28) and St. John (21-8).
The Panthers open District 6-3A play at Donaldsonville next Friday.
“They’re doing a great job of picking it up,” Brown said. “We’re obviously not where we want to be with it, but we’re making strides offensively and defensively, adjusting to the scheme.”
Brusly has a college prospect in guard Akkai Ward, a Louisiana-Lafayette pledge, who will help lead the way for running back Xavian Bell (37-211, three TDs) and quarterback Jason Holliday (23-182, five TDs; 7 of 17 passing, 151 yards, one TD).
“St. Thomas is a very good team,” Brown said. “They will be a tough challenge, one that we look forward to and one that will let us know exactly where we are.”
Brown knows his offense will have to account for Alexander’s whereabouts on the line, which range from inside at nose guard and tackle to outside at end.
“It’s going to be a challenge because we know Ed’s going to make some plays,” he said. “When you’re dealing with a great player like that you take it as it comes.”